DID YOU KNOW?

The Archaeological Institute of America has been offering over 120+ years of free public lectures.

 

Our Washington D.C. chapter of the AIA frequently offers six or more lectures a year! While some of these are sponsored by the National AIA, many are organized by the local AIA-DC governance board.

Remember: the lectures are always free and open to the public!

CONTACT

For more information about the Archaeological Institute of America Washington D.C. Society or any of our local events, please e-mail:

aiadcsec@gmail.com

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© 2019 by AIA-DC

LECTURES

2019 - 2020 Season

Thursday, September 26, 2019

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Science and History: The Fall of Rome for the 21st Century

Kyle Harper, University of Oklahoma

George Washington University, The Elliott School, 

1957 E St. NW, Room 113

Reception (free): 6:30 pm

Lecture (free): 7:00 pm

Abstract: Offered by the GWU Capitol Archaeological Institute as the Annual de Bragança Endowed Lecture and co-sponsored by the DC Society of the AIA, this lecture asks: What does history have to do with the natural sciences? Everything! The need to understand the climate system has created a trove of new data about the past. Skeletal archaeology is casting light on how ancient people lived and died, ate and moved and worked. Stable isotopes trace the movement of materials and commodities. Genome sequencing is turning DNA into one of the great archives of biological history. In short, historians are the beneficiaries of extraordinary new data on the human past coming from the natural sciences, and it is now possible to revisit classic questions – like the fall of Rome – with new and unexpected sources.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

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Forged Inscriptions: The Long History and Recent Deluge of Epigraphic Fakes and Forgeries

Christopher Rollston, George Washington University

Alfio's La Trattoria, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD

Luncheon and Raffle ($50): 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Lecture (free): 2:30 - 3:30 pm

Abstract: The forging of texts has been around for a very long time. The ancient Near East had its forgers, so did the Greco-Roman world, and textual forgeries from the Middle Ages are legion in number. Thus, it is not surprising that during the past 150 years, the fields of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies has seen a fairly large number of forged inscriptions as well, normally surfacing first on the antiquities market and then making their way into collections and even museums. Some of these forgeries sell for thousands of dollars, some for tens of thousands, and some have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dr. Christopher Rollston has been at the forefront of exposing a number of these forged inscriptions, and he also testified for the prosecution in the Israeli forgery trial a number of years ago. This lecture will focus on some of the most interesting, and most concerning, of the recent inscriptional forgeries and the ways in which the field is trying to stay a step or two ahead of some very talented and well-financed modern forgers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

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Palatial Palaikastro? Recent Work at a Minoan Coastal Town in East Crete

Carl Knappett, University of Toronto

George Washington University, The Elliott School, 

1957 E St. NW, Room 113

Reception (free): 6:30 pm

Lecture (free): 7:00 pm

Abstract: Palaikastro is one of the most intensively excavated settlements of Minoan Crete. Yet, we still understand relatively little of its urban organization, and how the town fit in its wider landscape. In this talk, Dr. Carl Knappett reports on a five-year project (2012-16) that has conducted excavations in a new neighborhood on the edge of town, while also applying techniques of landscape analysis to look at the site’s environmental setting. Besides the themes of urban development and landscape use in the Bronze Age, Knappett will also touch on issues concerning collaborative research, community involvement, and the politics of the past.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

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Epigraphic Culture and the Epigraphic Mode

John Bodel, Brown University

Georgetown University, Salon H, Leavey Center

Lecture (free): 5:00 pm

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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U2 Spy Plane Photos and Archaeology in the Middle East 

Emily Hammer, University of Pennsylvania

Howard University, Founders Library Reading Room

Reception (free): 6:30 pm

Lecture (free): 7:00 pm

Abstract: Declassified military imagery from planes and satellites plays an important role in landscape and environmental archaeology. The identification of ancient sites, fortifications, road networks, and irrigation networks in modern satellite images, like those viewable in Google Earth, is limited by the degree to which these features have survived the destructive effects of development and intensive agriculture in the last several decades. Historic imagery sources, especially large imagery archives generated by the US during the Cold War, provide archaeologists with a window into the past, before these processes took hold in many rural parts of Asia. In the mid-late 1990s, the archaeology of arid regions in Eurasia was revolutionized by the declassification of CORONA “spy satellite” photographs showing large swaths of the region in high-resolution, as they appeared in 1967-1972. Now Eurasian archaeology has a new source of even older high-resolution historical imagery: photos from U2 spy planes, captured 1958-1960. In this lecture, Dr. Emily Hammer presents recent efforts to make U2 photos more accessible to archaeologists and historians and case studies showing how these photos can be used to shape archaeological and historical conclusions. Using this new data source has required considerable detective work in the National Archives. However, the outcomes have been significant for generating a wide variety of unique datasets. These datasets allow for a better understanding of environmental distribution of prehistoric hunting traps (“desert kites”) in eastern Jordan, the size of the early Mesopotamian city of Ur in southern Iraq and this city’s ancient water supplies, and the spatial demography of twentieth-century communities living the marshes of southern Iraq.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

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The Mythology of Plants: Gods and Heroes in the Ancient Roman Garden 

Annette Giesecke, Dumbarton Oaks and University of Delaware

Catholic University, Keane Auditorium, McGivney Hall

Reception (free): 6:30 pm

Lecture (free): 7:00 pm

Abstract: In the shadow of Mount Vesuvius lies a most interesting domestic garden. This botanical oasis, which contains some well-preserved garden murals, forms the focal point of the ancient Pompeiian house known today as the House of Venus in the Shell. The house’s garden, situated to be visible from every room around it, has been laid out symmetrically in two myrtle-lined beds of roses and topiary divided by a path. As one approaches the path, a vivid mural painted on the wall at the garden’s end comes into view: the goddess Venus reclining in an oversized conch shell that floats on a blue-green sea. Accompanying her are winged Cupids, one riding a dolphin through the waves. To either side of the seascape densely planted gardens populated by a variety of birds have been painted. Recognizable among the plantings are shrubs of oleander and myrtle in flower, rose bushes laden with red blooms, diminutive pines, a clump of southernwood, as well as fruit-bearing strawberry trees and cherry plums. Both painted gardens, one containing a bubbling fountain and the other a statue of Mars, are decoratively framed by a garland of ivy with a theater mask signaling Bacchus’ presence.
 

This lecture explores the meaning of the presence both of gods such as Venus, Mars, and Bacchus and of a host of characters drawn from the realm of myth—among them the strongman Hercules, the self-absorbed Narcissus, and the star-crossed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe—to the Roman garden. These various gods and mythological personalities had strong ties with nature and plant life, and their presence enhanced the religious or paradisiacal quality of the garden. What’s more, even if god and mythological characters were not represented in garden art, so many garden plants had ties to the world of myth that the Roman garden was always filled with an otherworldly aura.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

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A Tale of Three Temples: Fifth and Fourth Century B.C. Architectural Sculpture in the Athenian Agora. Research and retrieval, 2010-2020

Andrew Stewart, U.C. Berkeley

University of Maryland, Tawes Hall Room 0310

Reception (free): 6:30 pm

Lecture (free): 7:00 pm

Abstract: Since 2010, selected U.C. Berkeley graduate students and I have been studying the Classical and Hellenistic architectural and free-standing sculpture found in the Athenian Agora since the start of excavations in 1931, publishing our results seriatim in Hesperia, the journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. This talk summarizes our work to date on the sculptural embellishment of three of its temples: the Temple of Apollo Patroos, the Hephaisteion, and especially the Temple of Ares. Built around 430 at Pallene as a cult center for the venerable four-deme League of Athena Pallenis, this temple was moved into the Agora in the Augustan period and rededicated to Ares (a.k.a. the Roman god Mars) alongside Athena. We have succeeded in identifying almost 100 fragments of its sculptural embellishment, comprising figural acroteria, pediments, metopes, porch friezes, and cult statues, together with a possible link to the great Athenian plague of 430-426. This talk summarizes the results to date of this joint research and retrieval project.

For recent lecture seasons, click here.

All lectures are free and open to the public